NORTHEAST GLENDALE — With Western State Conference competition around the corner, there's one area that the Glendale Community College men's basketball team would like to shore up — free-throw shooting.
In the mind of Glendale college Coach Brian Beauchemin, it's something he would like to see rectified sooner rather than later.
A lack of consistent free-throw shooting haunted the Vaqueros on Saturday night during the championship game of the Vaquero Classic. Glendale made just 31of 46 free throws in a 76-68 loss against Orange Coast.
"We missed 15 free throws and made 14 of 48 shots [in two-point territory]," said Beauchemin, whose team dropped to 5-6. "It's hard to win games that way.
"We have to do a lot betterjobwith free throws. We get to the hump, but we just can't get over it."
Orange Coast (8-4) slowed the game's pace down, often sending the Vaqueros to the free-throw line. The fouls didn't seem to faze Orange Coast.
"It's the way they go," Beauchemin said. "They don't really let you into a flow."
The Vaqueros, who began the tournament with victories against Rio Hondo and Cuyamaca, never led on Saturday. They spent most of the contest trailing by double digits and often stalled at the free-throw line.
Orange Coast jumped out to a 15-7 lead on a layup by freshman guard Jordan Pellum with 11:38 to go in the first half. A three-pointer by sophomore guard Robert Grepo extended Orange Coast's advantage to 23-9 with 8:16 remaining in the half.
The Vaqueros trimmed the deficit to 34-28 on a shot by freshman wing Alex Bullock with 25 left in the half. Beauchemin said the Vaqueros had a little momentum going into intermission.
"We felt pretty good at halftime only being down six," said Beauchemin, who's won 563 games at GCC since taking over the program in 1979. "Then we got into trouble to start the second half."
Orange Coast began the second half on a 9-0 run, capped by a layup by freshman forward Chris Nelson to make it 43-28 with 17:56 remaining. Glendale sophomore wing Mike Johnson ended the run with a jump shot to make it 43-30 on the ensuing possession.
Johnson finished with a team-best 15 points and earned all-tournament accolades.
The Vaqueros pulled to within 52-42 on a steal and layup by freshman wing Isiah Howard with 11:23 to play in the game, but could get no closer than 10 the remainder of the game.
Glendale also received 11 points from freshman guard Dion Nelson and eight apiece from freshman center Gor Plavchyan and freshman guard Emerson Castaneda, a St. Francis High graduate.
Plavchyan was named to the all-tournament team also.
Orange Coast turned to sophomore forward Marquis Ransom, who finished with a game-high 18 points and was selected to the all-tournament team.
Teammate Spencer Poston, a freshman guard, contributed eight points and was named the tournament's most valuable player.
Orange Coast also got 17 points from Pellum.
Glendale will next take part in a nonconference home game at 5 p.m. Tuesday against San Diego Southwestern.